All the dos and don’ts for introducing solids to your baby.
Starting your baby on solids is a huge milestone. It is so exciting!
It can also be frustrating when you don’t know what you are doing.
With such bad baby advice out there, it is more common for moms to make the worst mistakes when introducing solids to their babies.
Starting solids the wrong way can lead to a lot of frustration. You need to know exactly what to avoid and what to do instead.
Read on to discover the exact dos and don’ts for introducing solids to your baby. Start the right way and make starting solids exciting for both of you.
P.S. These tips apply whether you are following baby-led weaning or feeding your baby purees with a spoon.
Most Important Dos And Don’ts For Introducing Solids To Your Baby
Let us start with the seven things you should not do when introducing solids before we tackle what you should actually do.
Don’t Rush Your Baby
There is no need to be in a hurry to introduce solids to your baby.
New moms are often pressured into reducing milk feeds and starting solids too early because “milk is not enough for their baby”.
This is one of the most common but unsafe baby tips new moms should ignore.
What happens if you feed your baby solids too early?
Well, your baby wouldn’t have developed the necessary skill to swallow food yet. This puts them at a higher risk of choking.
Another reason is that when your baby starts eating solids, generally they don’t eat that much. Your baby still gets most of their daily nutrition from milk.
If you replace milk with solids too soon, you risk reducing the amount of nutrition your baby gets while the amount of solid food they eat is not enough to make up for those nutrients.
If you keep the milk feeds and introduce solids, you overfeed your little one and put them at risk of obesity.
Is it OK to start solids at 4 months?
It is possible to introduce solids at 4 months, but you need to be certain that your baby is ready for solids.
Speak to your doctor first to confirm that your little one is indeed ready at 4 months.
Signs your baby isn’t ready for solids
- Your baby is not able to sit even with support
- They have not mastered head and neck control yet
- Your baby can’t swallow food and instead pushes it out with the tongue
The above signs of unreadiness are the same reasons to wait until 6 months to introduce solids to your baby.
At 6 months, most babies can sit upright and have the necessary head and neck control to start eating solid food.
Don’t start too early.
Don’t Start With Bland Foods
Offer your baby a variety of foods with different tastes.
Avoid just sticking to bland foods.
For example, if you are going to give your baby mashed potatoes or porridge, mix it with pureed fruits and vegetables.
We often make the mistake of assuming that just because a baby has been drinking milk alone then it means they won’t take different tastes from different foods.
Offering different foods it’s exciting for both you and your baby and helps you look forward to the next meal.
Don’t Overfeed Your Baby
Overfeeding your baby not only interferes with their ability to regulate when they are full and stop eating, but it also sets your little one up for obesity.
Between 6 and 8 months old, your baby will have an average of 9 tablespoons of solids throughout the day.
If you’ve chosen to give your baby pureed food, always watch out for their signals that they are full.
Don’t give more food when your baby has indicated that they have had enough.
Don’t Force Your Baby
This should top the list of dos and don’ts for introducing solids to a baby.
Don’t force your baby to eat when they’re not in the mood as this will only alienate them and make them lose interest in eating.
Try to not give your baby solids soon after breastfeeding or bottle-feeding.
Your little one will not be as eager to try the new foods if their tummy is full.
Don’t Hold Back On Common Food Allergens
Don’t wait to introduce food allergens such as eggs or cow’s milk.
Experts have been advising parents to actually introduce food allergens early on as this can actually prevent a reaction at a later stage.
Introduce food allergens one at a time so that you know which food caused an allergic reaction if there is any.
Hold off on whole cow’s milk.
At this stage, your baby can eat foods like cheese or yogurt. They do contain cow’s milk but it is not enough to cause an allergic reaction.
Don’t Give Unhealthy Foods And Snacks
Offer your baby a variety of fruit and vegetables. Continue like this for as long as possible.
Avoid giving your baby lots of unhealthy foods filled with sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. This is especially important before your baby turns one.
You want to keep your baby from eating these kinds of foods for as long as possible.
It will be good for their health.
Don’t Stop Milk Feeds
Continue giving your baby milk feeds. Milk is still the main source of nutrition for your baby. You should however not give your baby more milk than solids. Do not overfeed your baby with milk.
From 6 months old your baby should only be drinking up to 600ml of milk. At this age, your baby is able to drink water so you can give your baby little sips of water every day to help with hydration.
What To Do When Introducing Solids To Your Baby
Now that you know the don’ts of introducing solids to your baby, here is what to do instead.
If you get started on the right food, the journey of starting your baby on solids can be less frustrating.
Be Prepared and Get The Necessary Equipment
To make meals exciting for both you and baby, get items you are going to need for feeding and meal preparation.
Make sure the items you get are for the proper age (6m+)
Here is what you will need:
- 3 dishes with lids
- Sippy cups
- Baby bibs
- Food storage containers
- Baby food warmer
- Separate pot for cooking baby food
- Baby food maker (pureeing if you will give your baby purees)
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Feeding chair
These are the basic items you will need when your baby starts solids.
Handle Food With Clean And Sanitized Hands
Your baby’s immune system is still fragile.
It is important to continue handling your baby’s feeding equipment with clean disinfected hands.
I still go as far as sterilizing my baby’s feeding items until they are one year old.
Plan Your Baby’s Meals
Plan your baby’s meals beforehand.
You must know what your baby’s going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and supper.
Draw up a feeding schedule and make a picture of what and when your baby is going to eat.
Here is my 6-month-old feeding schedule with solids and formula
09h00-09h30: Cereal and Fruit
12h30 -13h00: Green, Orange, and Yellow vegetables
15h00 – 16h00
18h00-19h00: Cereal and Fruit
That last milk feed is important as it helps my baby sleep longer at night.
At the beginning, the morning and afternoon snacks can be milk since your baby still needs the nutrients from milk.
Once your little one is used to eating solid food and drinks less milk, give healthy snacks during snack time.
It is ideal to plan the meals a week ahead so that you know what you need to get before you need to make your baby’s food.
Planning ahead will also help you to make the food in advance and store them and food containers in the freezer.
Making food ahead and freezing it is a real timesaver!
Know Which Foods To Not Give To Your Baby
What foods should you avoid when starting solids?
There are 2 groups of foods you should not give when you introduce your baby to solids.
Foods that are dangerous to your baby’s health, and those that are just plain not good for your little one.
Dangerous foods for babies include:
- Common food allergens like cow’s milk and certain types of fish
- Choking foods like large chunks of food and hotdogs
Foods to avoid for babies
- Unhealthy fats
- Processed foods
You should also avoid foods that cause constipation in babies.
- White foods such as rice, cereals, potatoes, bread.
- cheese, yogurt, and other milk-based products
- Bananas and certain fruits
Hold Off On Premade Food Purees
Convenience is everything. Especially when introducing solids to your baby.
Stocking up on baby purees is common and does save time.
And yes, it is convenient when you are traveling with your baby, or are away from home
Unless it is absolutely necessary, avoid premade purees for as long as possible.
Choose to give your baby fresh food for as long as possible.
If you have to buy pureed baby food, make sure you give freshly prepared food when you are at home.
Experiment With Different Tastes And Textures
You don’t have to go the traditional route of starting solids with cereals and bananas.
What foods do you introduce to your baby first?
There are a lot of exciting foods your baby can start with.
Here is a list of baby first foods for 4 – 6 months old
I gave foods on the above list to my 6-month-old baby and such a large variety made planning meals effortless.
Harden Baby’s Food As Time Goes
Your baby is not going to eat soft foods forever.
The whole idea of introducing solids to your baby is to teach them to eat.
From about 9 months, start to introduce lumps in your baby’s food (if you are not doing baby-led weaning).
If you are doing baby-led weaning, cut up foods to the appropriate size and texture to avoid choking.
Harden the lumps as your baby grows older and grows teeth.
Your baby is still getting the hang of switching from sucking to chewing food.
Most of what you give might end up on the bib or on the floor, don’t be disheartened.
Relax and keep trying until your little one finishes the food you dished for them.
It will take some trying to get there, but you will get there.
Watch Out For An Allergic Reaction
Baby food allergies are common when starting solids.
If you give your little one any food containing allergens (cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, nuts, certain types of fish, soy), watch out for any reaction afterward.
Signs of a food allergic reaction include:
- Skin rash
- Swelling on the lips, eyes, face, tongue
- Red or itchy eyes
- Dry skin patches
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing
Consult your doctor to confirm the allergy and get advice going forward.
Know The Difference Between Gagging And Choking
Gagging is a normal reflex that protects your baby from choking.
It happens because your baby has not yet developed the skill to prepare food for swallowing.
How can you tell if your baby is gagging?
Your baby will cough and make gagging noises, and they may take out their tongue in an attempt to return the food back into the mouth for chewing.
Don’t interfere with a gagging baby and try to blindly remove the food in their mouth.
You might push the food even further down the throat and they might just end up choking.
Choking, on the other hand, happens when food blocks the airway.
A choking baby is unable to breathe and makes no noise.
If this continues and the baby does not get help, they might die.
This is why it is important to learn CPR so you can be able to help if ever there is a need.
Learn more about the difference between gagging and choking, and what to do here.
If you haven’t already, think about getting CPR training.
Moms and caregivers are always encouraged to get CPR training.
It gives you peace of mind knowing that if ever there is an incident, you know what to do to help your baby and save their life.
CPR is not only necessary when introducing solids to your baby.
It extends to you being able to help other babies around you.
Enroll in a CPR training class, you might just be the one to save a life.
There you go!
A list of dos and don’ts you need to know before introducing solids to your baby.
Avoiding the don’ts and following the dos on this post will make your weaning journey a lot easier and enjoyable for you and your baby.